Elementary Schedule Q&A

Q. What is the research/reasoning on the benefits of this length of the school day?
A. Multiple reasons, including:

  • Our district has prioritized non-negotiable instructional focus on reading, math and science. At the same time, the district is committed to educating the whole child.
  • Providing teachers with an uninterrupted 50 minutes of daily planning time allows for data analysis, intentional planning and reflection on student learning, resulting in more effective instruction for students
  • Students will receive additional counseling support, career exploration and technology integration instruction with guidance counseling and media in the weekly schedule.
  • Daily 25 minute flex time allows for additional intervention, art, class meetings, celebrations, SEL time and the specific needs of individual classrooms as determined by classroom teachers.
  • Opportunities for collaboration and embedded professional learning are enhanced with the schedule.
  • The side benefit of absorbing snow days easier solves an issue parents and the community have been asking us to address.

Q. What research do we have from other districts - including both academics and behaviors?
A. Our research of other districts included both local and statewide districts, similar in size and smaller. Our research looked at frequency and minutes per session as well as overall minutes per four-week period. We looked at NeSA data, but we don't want to give the impression there is a direct correlation between schedule and test results; nor do we want to say test results are the only indicator of success. That said, the schools we compared GIPS elementary with and researched all had significantly higher NeSA scores than GIPS. We have not talked with each school about behavior problems. We have looked at research that shows the behavioral benefits of elementary students having regular time with a guidance counselor.

Q. Is this schedule set in stone?
A. For the 2017-18 school year, yes. We will meet frequently with staff at all elementary schools in both small and large groups and continue to monitor to determine what is working and what needs adjustment.

Q. What does 50 minutes with a guidance counselor look like?
A. Guidance counselors will address topics such as citizenship, digital citizenship, friendship, relationships, bullying, respect, responsibility, character, careers, goal setting, etiquette and personal safety. Like all teachers, counselors will provide instruction in whole group, small group and individual settings.

Q. Is it possible to do 25/25 twice a week and flip? Would that work in the schedule?
A. To be consistent across the district, the 50 minute schedule will be followed Currently, K-5 teachers plan for 90 minutes of literacy and 70 minutes of math every day. The 50 minutes allows for specialists to address the whole child.

Q. How will we work music programs?
A. Planning for music programs will be coordinated with music staff and principals.

Q. Can teachers sit and plan for 50 minutes straight?
A. Of course they can. Again, this is a common plan time in the schedule at many of the districts we researched. The idea was first introduced to us from a teacher who previously taught in Lincoln Public Schools.

Q. How much screen time do student have during the school day?
A. Depends on the classroom and the grade level. Some classes are using devices as learning tools up to 80 percent of the day. Others are less than half that. Using a device is not the same as screen time; students may be interacting with others and documenting with the device, they may be reading, they may be solving problems, exploring content or just typing.